New Delhi, Jun 8 (PTI) Sanitation coverage in rural India, under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the “largest behaviour change programme” in the world, has now risen to 85 per cent, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said today.

A statement issued by the ministry said that through mobilisation of rural communities, 7.4 crore toilets were built across rural India, and as an outcome, over 3.8 lakh villages and 391 districts were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).

This is significant because under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), sanitation coverage has increased to more than double than at the time of launch of the Mission, it said.

“Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the largest behaviour change programme in the world, the rural sanitation coverage of India has now risen to 85 per cent. This success has been achieved due to the difference in approach adopted by the Swachh Bharat Mission in comparison to previous sanitation programmes in the country,” the statement added.

The ministry said that a recent survey conducted by an independent verification agency across 90,000 households in over 6,000 villages has found the usage of toilets in rural India to be at 93.4 per cent.

Two independent surveys conducted in the past by the Quality Council of India in 2017, and the National Sample Survey Organization in 2016, had pegged the usage of these toilets at 91 per cent and 95 per cent respectively, it added.

The Swachh Bharat Mission is the first sanitation programme in the country to measure outcomes (ODF) instead of output (toilets) alone.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.